An Artificial Intelligence machine has questioned the logic behind the proposed ban on polymeric infill. The machine was asked five questions and delivered clear-cut answers, all showing that a ban on the sale of polymeric infill will not be the correct answer to balance the reduction of microplastic pollution with achieving a healthy society.
The questions were drafted by RE-PLAN CITY LIFE, a European Tire Recycling Association (ETRA) working group, that aims to raise awareness among Technicians of P.A., stakeholders, and policymakers on the use of Recycled Tyre Materials (RTMs) in buildings, urban areas, and Sports Infrastructures.
When asked “What are 5 key points to use in a safe and sustainable way recycled rubber infill material in synthetic turf to avoid the release of granulates into the environment?”, the machine responded:
- Proper Installation: The installation process should be done correctly to ensure that the recycled rubber infill is securely in place and does not easily escape. Proper installation techniques, such as the use of appropriate adhesives and edging systems, can help reduce the release of recycled rubber infill into the environment.
- Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance, such as brushing and vacuuming, can help keep the recycled rubber infill in place and prevent it from being released into the environment. Regular monitoring and inspection can also help identify areas where the recycled rubber infill may have become dislodged, so that appropriate corrective action can be taken.
- Use of Containment Systems: The use of containment systems, such as fences or barriers, can help prevent the release of recycled rubber infills into the surrounding environment. These systems can be particularly effective when combined with proper maintenance and monitoring.
- Proper Disposal: Proper disposal of waste, including old recycled rubber infill, can help minimize the release of rubber particles into the environment. This can include recycling the material or disposing of it in a safe and secure manner.
- Education and Awareness: Education and awareness about the impact of recycled rubber infill on the environment can help encourage the safe and sustainable use of the material. This can include educating stakeholders on the importance of proper maintenance and disposal and promoting the use of alternative materials where appropriate.
Asked “what are the 5 key points that make inconvenient and not effective the infill ban to limit the release of rubber granulate from synthetic turf into the environment?” the machine responded:
- Lack of alternatives: A ban on rubber infill may be inconvenient and not effective if there are no readily available and cost-effective alternatives to rubber infill. This can result in the continued use of rubber infill, despite the ban, or the use of less desirable alternatives that may not perform as well or have other environmental impacts.
- High cost of replacement: Replacing existing synthetic turf fields with alternative infill materials can be expensive, especially for large facilities such as sports fields and parks. The high cost of replacement can make a ban on rubber infill impractical for many communities and organizations.
- Difficulty in Enforcement: Enforcing a ban on rubber infill can be difficult, as it may be challenging to monitor and enforce compliance with the ban. This can result in the continued use of rubber infill despite the ban, leading to increased release of rubber granulate into the environment.
- Economic impact: A ban on rubber infill can have a significant economic impact on the industry, as well as on suppliers and manufacturers of rubber infill. This can result in job losses and reduced economic activity, which can have broader social and economic implications.
- Resistance to change: There may be resistance to change from stakeholders who have invested in synthetic turf fields with rubber infill and are familiar with the product. This resistance can make it challenging to implement a ban on rubber infill and encourage the use of alternative materials.
The response by the AI machine supports what many have been advocating once the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) started investigating third generation synthetic turf fields following accusations that it was the biggest single-source contributor to microplastic pollution: achieving a health society and reducing microplastic pollution can go hand in hand without the need for implementing a ban on the sale of polymeric infills.